Repeating the trauma of Afghanistan is supposed to cure it. I don the state-of-the-art headset, 3 fucking D, and hold the controller. Hepatic feedback. Sit in the seat. Hepatic feedback. Humvee on a bumpy road? Not really. No way to simulate the choke of sand and smoke, but when she thinks you’re ready, the doctor adds smells—diesel, sweat, gunpowder, blood.
My father liked to say that the only thing to do in Florence, South Carolina, is eat dinner at Cain’s BBQ, and I am beginning to think he’s goddamned right. Of course, many thousand more restaurants exist here now, most of them slick chains, but the notion that my father, the Colonel, once had still holds water and holds it pretty well.
Braden inches sideways so Sissy can squeeze in beside him on the upstairs landing. Now he can’t see the living room wall downstairs where Mom or Dad’s shadow falls sometimes. He wants to see their shadows. When he does, he imagines their fight is like those shows with puppets behind the screen, where, in the end, nothing bad ever happens.
Andrea Cole didn’t simply return to school pregnant. Nope, in her adult and responsible, super Andrea-Cole way, she’d taken small steps throughout the summer to prepare all of us for it. She’d met with the principal and all of her teachers, file folder with the color-coded tabs of her medical records and relevant state laws ahead of her like a shield.
"Stop putting words in my mouth," she said. She took a long sip of her merlot and eyed him above the rim of her glass. Through the living room window behind her, the traffic was backing up on the rural road that ran before their house — cars slowing the way they would if behind a tractor at dinner time, or if somebody's dog had been run down.
Whenever Murat visited our family farm during the Festival of the Great Slaughter he used to gather all the little boys and all the little girls in the pagoda overlooking the lake and declare that the place was our own nascent empire. It didn't have a name, or even an organizing principle, except, of course, Murat's inner vitality.
If you can arrange it, the best way to see Barcelona’s piece de resistance, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral, is on a gurney, with someone to push you around inside while you lie on your back to study the heights of its sublime architecture – the tendrils of stone bridging space that any other cathedral architect would have left bare, austere and angular.
In private, we began with handcuffs, a shiny silver pair of handcuffs. I would take June’s small and delicate wrist in my hands and rub my thumbs across the softest, whitest skin there. June would exhale a soft moan at the touch of the steel, and then there would be the click of the mechanism engaging. Just like that, the cuff around my wrist, too, June and I would stay locked together no matter what tragedy befell us while at home...
Jules, my kid sister, is a million miles away in Bavaria nursing her father figure complex. She lives in snow with Otto, a widower who drives a vintage BMW to Lion’s Club meetings in Munich and Kempten. Jules is playing the cool Euro Babe but she’s really hiding out while trying to force a marriage.